Tourism & Conservation Efforts in the Galapagos Islands & at Machu Picchu
has gradually but steadily increased in Peru and the Galapagos during
most of the second half of the 20th
century, but then started growing more rapidly in the late 90s and
first decade of the 21st
century. Growth in tourism is double edged, because tourism has been
a driving force to spur and fund many successful conservation efforts
in Peru and in the Galapagos Islands, but at the same time tourism
pressure has created new problems or has exacerbated existing ones.
are severe concerns for conserving the diversity and ecology of the
Galapagos, and we strive to be part of the solution in the Galapagos
(sustainable, low impact, limited tourism) rather than part of the
problem (rampant, uncontrolled mass tourism). We support limiting
tourism (including a cap on the absolute number of tourists allowed
into the Galapagos), and we work with and donate to conservation
organizations actively involved in these areas, including the
Galapagos Conservancy, the International Galapagos Tour Operators
Association (IGTOA), Conservation International, and the Nature
Conservancy. We encourage you to donate to conservation
organizations active in these areas. Travelers who have learned
about these environmental issues through their travels have become an
important source of funds for these critical conservation
organizations. In our Booking Form, we provide travelers with the
opportunity to donate to conservation efforts in the Galapagos.
also work only with the most reputable local outfitters and suppliers
in these destinations, most of whom are also very actively involved
in local conservation efforts. We promote only vessel based tours on
our website, focusing on smaller boats. We do not promote land based
tours, which are the biggest tourism threat that the Galapagos faces,
because those types of tours require hotels, restaurants, offices,
and other infrastructure, and because they often operate in an
unregulated manner. The explosive growth in the local population in
the Galapagos over the last decade is largely the result of the
growth of land based tourism. It is the kind of thing that is hard
to stop once it gets going, and there are already “pro-growth”
politicians serving in elected office in the Galapagos. This can’t
be good for the biodiversity or environmental future of the islands.
Everyone working in conservation in the islands recognizes that the
more people that come, the more introduced species we have and the
more damage gets done to this fragile ecosystem. There are
regulations and immigration restrictions on the local population, but
there are many loopholes and a lot of illegal immigration continues
simply because the economic situation is so much better in the
Galapagos than it is in most of the mainland. We recognize and
understand that there are conflicting interests in the Galapagos, but
hopefully at some point the authorities will recognize the need to
put an absolute cap on the total number of visitors to the Galapagos.
That is the only thing that can really halt the growth in land based
tourism and, consequently, the growth in the local population.
are many success stories in Galapagos conservation and all visitors
must be accompanied by certified guides, who are responsible for
preventing any harmful interaction with the wildlife, including
touching or feeding the animals. The ocean area surrounding the
Galapagos was made into a Marine Reserve with protected status, which
has considerably reduced poaching and illegal commercial fishing.
Successful eradication programs of feral goats and other destructive
introduced species has also taken place. However, there is a lot of
unregulated, illegal tourism taking place, including unlicensed site
visits by day trippers from the growing cities in the Galapagos, and
illegal hotel development.
such as the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos Conservancy
exist to promote environmental protection and improve the
relationship between Islanders and the travel industry, helping them
to work together to safeguard the island’s natural heritage. The
International Galapagos Tour Operators Association is a trade
organization of mostly U.S. based companies that collaborate to try
and ensure that sustainable tourism is practiced in the Galapagos.
Vaya Adventures has been active in conservation efforts in the
Galapagos and its founder has served on the Board of the
International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA).
the ruins of Machu
Picchu and the Inca
Trail have faced similar dilemmas as the volume of visitors has
increased each year, creating serious concerns over erosion of the
Inca stonework and environmental degradation of the area. The surge
in visitor numbers and talk of a cable car direct to the entrance
gates and a luxury hotel within the site itself compelled UNESCO to
issue a warning that the site was at risk of losing its World
Heritage status, a warning that was eventually heeded by the
authorities who introduced stricter entrance and conservation
regulations and now limit the number of tourists who can hike the
Inca Trail or visit Machu Picchu. If environmentalists and people
interested in conservation make enough noise, the authorities listen
and there are successful limits on development and tourism!
one of our travel specialists for more details on how to reduce the
environmental impact of a tour
to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands and how you can
contribute to conservation efforts. We give all of our travelers the
opportunity to contribute to local conservation and community efforts
in our Booking Forms.